Finding the Character for Actors

Happy 2019, everyone! Studio 27 Talent started back on January 2, and boy, are we ready to hit the ground RUNNING! Our classes this week have been focused on character work, which is one of my favorite topics in acting for film, so I figured I’d dive in fully and in addition to teaching, write a blog post about finding the character for actors. Here’s how to do it.

Photo by Howard Schatz

Photo by Howard Schatz

Listen To Your Coaches/Teachers, & Do Your Homework

There’s a reason why we assign students homework at Studio 27, and it’s not just to win awards. No, it’s because we want our students to improve their acting for film abilities and talent, and to accurately, efficiently, and effectively bring their characters to life off of the page. By working on film character analysis worksheets, acting students can work through a character’s arc and see right there on the page his or her emotional growth. It’s imperative that actors do this work before a performance, even if it’s a last-minute film, commercial, or television project, so that they can perform to the best of their abilities.

Do Physical Warm-Ups

Think about how your characters portrays themselves in a physical way: do they walk with a limp? How old are they? Where are they coming from in each scene? Where are they emotionally and mentally? Are they rich or poor? All of these details are factors in how your character carries themselves. Doing physical warm-ups, like stretching, yoga, and improv exercises can help you get in touch with your character’s physicality, and figure out how they move. Physicality is the #1 way you can inform a character, so work on that before you do anything else!

Play Some Jams

I love making playlists for each show or film I’m in to inform my character work. I try and focus on what the character would listen to, or simply add songs that remind me of my character. It helps TREMENDOUSLY for me to get in the mood while driving on the way to rehearsal or a show/performance. I generally try to avoid noise interference when learning lines, but playing music throughout my day (if I’m working on something that doesn’t require my full attention) is helpful!

Whether You’re Method or Meisner, Use Your Experience

Using your experience to inform your character work is key. Hopefully in your acting career, you’ll get to play a myriad of characters who are from all walks of life (or who knows, maybe you’ll even get to play an alien or monster - how cool would THAT be?), and you may not be experienced with said walks of life. You’ll need to draw on your own experiences to portray a character well - for example, if you’re playing a mom but have never been a mother, you’re going to have to figure out a person or animal you love like a mother would a child. It’s not the same thing, but you’ll need to get pretty close to play this character well.

How do you get into character before a big shoot or performance? What’s been your favorite character to play? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on January 4, 2019 and filed under Characters.